Six ways to walk off your cares
If you want to leave your worries behind, take a walk. Whether you are strolling by the water or striding through the bush, it’s not just the movement that lifts your spirits – it’s the clean air, the serene surrounds, the call of birds or the gentle murmur of the waves. These are our favourite places in and around Esperance to take a hike.
The family-friendly trail
Stokes Heritage Trail, Stokes National Park
An hour out of Esperance, Stokes National Park is loved by locals for its superb fishing and hiking. The 6.5km return Stokes Heritage Trail, which starts at Benwenerup Campground, is a favourite with families not just because it makes for easy walking. Wildlife spotting opportunities abound; the kids may get to see kangaroos, honey possums and even emus. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the Stokes picnic area.
The Great Ocean Pathway, Esperance
Stretching along the foreshore for 12km between Esperance Bay and Twilight Beach, the Great Ocean Pathway deserves every superlative that it gets, with amazing views along its entire length. It is hard to narrow down the highlights, but they must include the beautiful bays at Blue Haven, and Tanker Jetty where Sammy the seal is often in residence. There’s even a handy coffee stop, Taylor Street Café.
“It’s not just the movement that lifts your spirits – it’s the clean air, the serene surrounds, the call of birds or the gentle murmur of the waves.”
The wildflower walk
Len Otte Nature Trail, Cape Arid National Park
There is a reason so many locals regularly head to the Cape Arid National Park, two hours out of town: it is wildly beautiful. The Len Otte Nature Trail is not a particularly long walk – the loop can easily be completed in two hours – but it is wonderfully scenic, particularly during wildflower season. Expect to see vividly-coloured blooms including yellow hibbertia, golden banksia and scarlet honeymyrtle. The bird watching opportunities are also good.
Frenchman Peak Walk, Cape Le Grand National Park
If you like your walk to double as a workout, this one is for you. The 2.5km trail up this peak is steep, and only to be tackled in good weather. Stop in at cave that sits just beneath the summit to enjoy a perfectly-framed ocean view. The cave itself was formed by wave action millions of years ago, when this entire area was still underwater. Cape Le Grand National Park is 45 minutes’ drive from Esperance.
The bird-lovers trail
Kepwari Wetland Trail, Esperance
Allow around 2.5 hours return to stroll this tranquil trail through the Kepwari Wetlands. The variety of landscapes – including fringing sedgelands, heathlands, and dune ridges – make this a haven for birdwatchers. There are even two hides where you can sit and watch to see what flies past. The interpretive signage about wetlands helps to keep children engaged.
“The Great Ocean Pathway has amazing views along its entire length between Esperance Bay and Twilight Beach.”
The hardcore hike
Mount Arid Walk, Cape Arid National Park
You will need a four-wheel drive, along with plenty of bushwalking experience, to enjoy this adventurous hike through the sandy heaths, mallee and saltbush woodlands of Cape Arid National Park. To reach the trailhead, drive for 20km along the beach at Yokinup Bay to the Mount Arid car park. The hike is just two km long but it is rough going – the climb is steep and the path is rocky. It’s all worth it, however, for the sweeping views from the summit, which stretch out over the Recherche Archipelago.